The Bacchae Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used Paul Roche's translation.
"every female in this city,
I've started on a wild stampede from home" (1)
The Bacchae could be interpreted by some as a text of female liberation. Greek women were pretty much expected to stay home and be submissive. Not so with these ladies of Thebes. They're all out dancing in the woods. It's interesting, however, that these women aren't rebelling because they thought it was a good idea. Instead, they've been magically driven to it, and by a male god. They've unwillingly become the Maenads, the frenzied worshipers of Dionysus.
"Onwards! My women Tmolus, you bulwark of Lydia,
you, my sisterhood of worshipers
whom I led from foreign lands to be my company
in rest and march…" (1)
The Chorus, unlike the Maenads, celebrates Dionysus of their own choice. Their presence in Thebes must be very disconcerting to Pentheus and the men of Thebes. They are strong, powerful women with the power of a god behind them. These ladies are completely outside of the patriarchal power structure of Thebes.
"Him [Dionysus] who his mother miscarried in a blast of light from Zeus, […]
Was taken by Zeus and sheltered within his thigh:
Stitched with golden brackets,
Secreted from Hera." (2)
Here's an interesting inversion of the role woman. Dionysus began as a fetus in the womb of his mother, Semele. But when his father, Zeus, accidentally destroyed Semele he stitched Dionysus' fetus into his leg until Dionysus was ready to be born. In a way, Dionysus was given birth to twice – once by a male, once by a female. Throughout the play, we see this blurring of the lines between the sexes.